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Feds to house migrants at facility in Artesia

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LAS CRUCES – New Mexico will soon be playing a role in housing families caught crossing the border into the United States from Central America.

Overwhelmed by an influx of Central American migrants in south Texas, the U.S. government has been transferring families with children to other sectors including El Paso and Nogales and letting them go – with orders requiring them to appear at an immigration court at a later date.

Every weekend for the past two weeks, two government planes have landed in nearby El Paso, carrying a total of 270 families from Central America – all needing food, clothes and shelter.

On Friday, the Obama administration announced it plans to open new detention centers to hold immigrant families, including using a federal law enforcement training facility in Artesia to temporarily hold detained families. It’s not clear when the new detention centers will become available.

In the meantime, non-profit organizations are providing shelter to the released migrants.

Catholic Charities of Las Cruces plans to lend a hand to sister Catholic organizations in El Paso that have so far led the effort to care for the new arrivals, according to Executive Director Thomas Baca.

Most have traveled from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador. They have spent weeks journeying through Mexico and days at U.S. detention centers. Dropped in El Paso, the migrants are frequently disoriented and desperate for a shower, a change of clothes and a hot meal.

“This is a crisis that has to be dealt with,” Baca said. “We can’t be shy about it. We have to step out into deep waters, as Jesus said. But we are serious about doing what we can to help our sister diocese.”

Baca said the diocese may house people in St. Anthony Parish in Anthony, NM, but is still evaluating the logistics of housing hundreds of people. Baca said the diocese is accepting donations through its website, catholiccharitiesdlc.org.

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